Poor old Johnny Ray …
This was a first line of “Come On Eileen”, which was a huge hit in the early 1980s for a UK band, Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I loved the song, but I was a teenager and had no idea who Johnny Ray was, so asked my Dad.
“Hmmph. He was a pop star. He was the first of the Screamers,” he said.
Puzzled, I asked what he meant. It emerged that it wasn’t Johnny Ray who screamed, but his young female fans. You know the hysterical screaming which made the Beatles pretty much inaudible when they played live? Apparently this meme started with Johnny Ray.
My Dad was a conservative soul. He loved music, but he believed it had reached perfection in the works of J.S. Bach, and been going downhill ever since, with the possible exception of Gilbert and Sullivan. So, he was never going to approve of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, or indeed Johnny Ray.
He had a point about the screaming, mind.
That was all I knew about Johnny Ray until I bought this 10” 78rpm disc. It is one of the “G.S.” collection, and came out in 1956. This was right at the end of shellac as a popular medium, and shows that “G.S.”, though fond of jazz and swing, liked the emerging pop of the fifties as well.
The record stands as a monument of this transition. A jazz classic, Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, is given a doo wop treatment by a rising rock star. The B-side is altogether different: in “Walk Along with Kings”, Ray shows himself a strong singer of a straight gospel which even my Dad could not disapprove of.
But I would wager this record against a mint condition copy of the first release of “Love Me Do” that it was “Ain’t Misbehavin’” that G.S. bought it for.
- Artist: Johnny Ray
- Title: Ain’t Misbehavin’
- Track: Side A “Ain’t Misbehavin’”
- Format: 10” shellac disc, 78rpm
- Label: Coronet KP-032
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1952